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Learning Wood engraving

Last week I had the pleasure of spending the day at Handprinted in Bognor Regis learning the introductory skills in Wood engraving with David Peduzzi.

I had been looking forward to this course for a couple of years now. Unfortunately the course had been postponed due to Lockdown.

So, I was really excited about finally taking the course!

I wasn’t disappointed!

The day started with a short introduction from David Peduzzi into ‘what is wood engraving?’

He then went on to explain about the type of wood we would use and we learnt about the ‘end grain’ which is particularly important for wood engraving.

Next, we were introduced to ‘spitstickers’ and ‘scorpers’. The fabulous names for the special tools used for wood engraving. Holding the tools and getting my head around how to skim the surface of the wood was my first challenge.

We each returned to our desks to practice the tool hold and mark-making on a scrap piece of end grain wood. After about 20 minutes we had all managed to create marks and feel a little more comfortable holding the tools.

It was then time for a cup of tea and to create a sample block.

The pace of my work was very slow and methodical as patiently and very carefully created my different marks. Not like me at all!

First, I created 3 different marks and tones using the fine spitsticker.

My second row was made with the round scorper and my final row was a mixture of the two tools.

Phew!.. take a breath, stop clenching my jaw and relax my shoulders.

Now to printing the tiny block.

David showed us all how to ink up the block, turning and reinking the surface for an even covering. He then demonstrated hand-burnishing and we all duly inked our blocks, took a tiny sheet of Japanese paper and returned to our desks to see what we had made.

It turned out that I had been making a wood engraving! Which totally thrilled me!

The tiny print was lovely and looked just like a wood engraving. I thought I could tell what the print would look like from looking at the block, but once printed in that bold contrast of black and white the print was amazing to see.

Then it was lunchtime.

So during the lunch hour I chatted with my fellow wood engravers and sketched out a design for the other side of my block.

I had lots of ideas, but when I originally booked the course, I had planned to make a Christmas design, so I stuck with that. I sketched a little snow-covered house, snowy fields and stormy sky.

The rest of the afternoon involved engraving my block, bit by bit taking out more and more wood to create the white areas. I have to admit I felt more confident holding my tools, we were now issued with a large square scorper. I did forget a lot of the things I’d learnt about mark making from the morning session.

I tested my block later in the afternoon and made some adjustments and David printed our blocks for us on a Letterpress.

I wanted to make my image feel even more ‘wintery’, so finally added lovely large snow flakes into my storm. Again David printed this on his Letterpress and I also hand-burnished a print myself.

And that was the end of the day.

I am now in love with everything wood engraving; searching for tools, end grain (super expensive) wood and planning my next print.

Finally take a peek at the work we all created on the day!

This was such a fantastic day and I loved this introduction to Wood Engraving. Keep your eyes on my social media @artwithtricia to see what I'm up to next.

Blog you later.....

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